‘Chup!’ film review: R. Balki’s thriller has its moments, but fails to silence critics

Despite Dulquer Salmaan and Shreya Dhanwanthary in fine form, the main conceit of ‘Chup’ doesn’t hold up, and the clever pun and topical observations start to seem superficial.

Despite Dulquer Salmaan and Shreya Dhanwanthary in fine form, the main conceit of ‘Chup’ doesn’t hold up, and the clever pun and topical observations start to seem superficial.

Writer-director R. Balki has a knack for unearthing intriguing premises and dressing them in technical flourishes and pointed observations about society and its hypocrisies. But, usually, after an engrossing buildup, his custom vehicles get stuck in the gears of self-awareness. Chup is no different.

It’s no surprise that Kagaz Ke Phool, one of the brightest examples of self-reflection in world cinema, serves up the plot of its detective thriller. With Guru Dutt’s classic – which was panned by critics at the time – as a point of reference, Chupon the surface, is about a psychopath mauling movie critics for giving movies inappropriate ratings.

But deep down, the film’s three screenwriters, one of whom is famed film critic Raja Sen, project the killer as some sort of self-proclaimed vigilante who’s out to save cinema from mediocrity and impose the tyranny of taste. However, curiously, the film does not question the rating system itself. He does not ask whether art should be quantified or understood in a time frame. Kagaz Ke Phool was crushed by critics at the time, but it survived and found new life because it was written by a different group of critics who focused more on its artistry than its content. In any democracy, mediocrity and excellence coexist. To purify oneself for the benefit of others is not a means of progress; the pleasure lies in the subjectivity of the art.

To make the indie idea palatable to a wider audience, Balki advertises Amitabh Bachchan in a cameo to educate us that reviews are crucial for the growth of the art form, and that a “hit film is not necessarily a “good movie”. . To make things meta and massive at the same time, he cast Sunny Deol – who is usually overlooked by critics – as the policeman on the trail of the critics critic. Then there’s Pooja Bhatt, whose father made self-referential movies, as a criminal psychologist to read the mind of the killer on the prowl.

But even as we chew on interesting crime and casting details, romance blossoms in the Christian quarter of Bandra, where reluctant florist Danny (Dulquer Salmaan) finds his voice after perky entertainment reporter Nila Menon (Shreya Dhanwanthary) comes into his life.

Backed by thought-provoking cinematography, upbeat music and witty conversations, the two generate electric moments with Jaane Kya Tune Kahian unusual SD Burman composition of Pyaasa, providing a singing background. The unmistakable sound of Chinese temple blocks stirs something every time it is played.

A natural performer, Shreya Dhanwanthary cracked the role of a journalist. This is her third role as a scribe with a conscience, but this time she gets a romantic lead and has a more robust character arc. Along with veteran South Indian actor Saranya Ponvannan (as Nila’s outspoken mother), Dulquer and Shreya make the middle gripping. Dulquer is attractive as a lover who likes to talk to each other, but as the film progresses towards the end of affairs, he is disappointed with the script.

With no red herrings to approach, Chup is less of a thriller and instead makes us wait for the motivation behind the gruesome murders. When the backstory doesn’t match the punishment meted out to the critics, the climax is reduced to a charade. When the main conceit doesn’t hold up, the clever pun and topical observations start to seem superficial. The link between the action on the screen and the director’s harangue on criticism no longer remains organic, and the film runs out of steam without firing a shot. Globally, Chup has its moments, but fails to silence the critics!

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